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From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition
have offered cancer survivors some protections from discriminatory practices such as firing or denial of benefits because of cancer. Such laws have clarified the responsibilities of employers to accommodate workers returning to work with health-related limitations. The most important of these laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), continues to be interpreted by the courts. Although protections cover disabled cancer survivors, some survivors have not been fully protected from job loss and access to accommodations for cancer-related work limitations. Successful resolutions on the part of cancer survivors who have filed formal complaints against employers suggest that not all employers have yet fully complied with the law.
Recommendation 8: Employers, legal advocates, health care providers, sponsors of support services, and government agencies should act to eliminate discrimination and minimize adverse effects of cancer on employment, while supporting cancer survivors with short-term and long-term limitations in ability to work.
Cancer providers, advocacy organizations, NCI, and other government agencies should continue to educate employers and the public about the successes achieved in cancer treatment, the improved prospects for survival, and the continuing productivity of most patients who are treated for cancer.
Public and private sponsors of services to support cancer survivors and their families should finance programs offering education, counseling, support, legal advice, vocational rehabilitation, and referral for survivors who want to work.
Providers who care for cancer survivors should become familiar with the employment rights that apply to survivors who want to work; make available information about employment rights and programs; and routinely ask patients who are cancer survivors if they have physical or mental health problems that are affecting their work
Employers should implement programs to assist cancer survivors, for example, through short- and long-term disability insurance, return-to-work programs, accommodation of special needs, and employee assistance programs.
Cancer survivors should tell their physicians when health problems are affecting them at work. Survivors should educate themselves about their employment rights and contact support organizations for assistance and referrals when needed.